Friday, January 29, 2016

The Evolution of a Pattern

I was thinking about my journey with Vogue 1247 ~ how the skirt became a dress and then a topper...and I thought all of the info should be in one that's what follows. BTW, if you don't want to see the pattern evolution skip to the bottom, the finished topper is there!

The First Vogue 1247 Skirt ~
My first version of Vogue 1247 was made shortly after the pattern came out. I loved the skirt but hated how short it was.  Then another blogger, Adonishing Dressing for Dinner, just lengthened the skirt and made an amazing version so I had to have one. I made my first version of this skirt in May 2011:

To get my first skirt ~
  • I used my TNT skirt pattern and widened the pattern pieces to fit my body which was about a size 26/28 then.
  • Then I lengthened the skirt front and back bottoms to make the skirt just a little longer than knee length.
  • The bias binding was omitted and I lined my version.
  • It has a skinny waistband with an invisible zipper and button/buttonhole closure. 
* * * * *

Next was "The Rachel Dress" ~
That first version of the skirt inspired the dress which I called "The Rachel Dress." I was inspired by a PYT that I saw when standing in line at Chipolte (at the time I worked around the corner from Oprah's Magazine and Hearst Publications) who was wearing a shift dress with those inset pockets. 

Of course I thought of using the skirt and my TNT dress pattern to get my own version. This dress was made in July 2011.

I made dress pattern pieces to get a garment with the working invisible pockets. The pattern alteration post is here. However, I have to share the making of this pattern piece in-process because it's kinda cool...

  • This dress was made from linen.
  • Buttons and buttonholes were added to the pocket inset.
  • Black piping was added to the neckline and armholes.
  • The dress is lined in blue rayon bemberg.
  • Lace was added to the lining hem ~ which was my signature technique added to lining hems.
* * * * * 

The Rachel Dress Number Two ~
I loved wearing the original dress so much so that I made a winter version in March 2012.

For this version I emphasized the pockets with black gimp trim and used an amazing piece of herringbone fabric that was appliqued with lace pieces. That black gimp was hand stitched to the dress front, a look inspired by pieces from Chanel's Couture Spring 2012 line. All construction details can be found here. This fabric presented some challenges because care needed to be taken with it to get a finished dress.

I put the pattern away after this because there were so many other versions of dresses to make using my TNT pattern, inspiration pieces and/or new dress patterns.

* * * * *

A Topper from The Rachel Dress ~
A weight loss, a job and lifestyle change (hey it snowed buckets last Saturday but I worked from home on Monday cause that's one of the perks of the new job. No trudging out in the snow for me!) inspired me to make a new Vogue 1247 skirt in denim late last year.

I believe that working with the pattern again, loving those invisible pockets and finally realizing that I can be as creative as I want with my wardrobe, led to this new topper.

Inspiration ~
My last post details what inspired me and how I came to make this topper. The one thing I didn't discuss was why a topper? I've bought enough bottoms (leggings/slim pants) to wear to work for two weeks and I have loads of tops/sweaters/tanks still in the collection to wear with them. So figuring out what inspires me to want to sew has come down to toppers, shirts and skirts this winter. But you know me, I can't just sew a pattern...I need to do something to it to make it unique and distinctly me.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I will wear mostly RTW every day because I need time to make new garments. This means the me-made pieces I do sew, I want to be distinctive.  Toppers or jackets fill that need.

The Supply List ~
2 yards of a Printed Brocade from Fabric Mart
3/4 yard of black ponte from Metro Textiles
Gray Rayon Bemberg Lining

Pattern Alterations ~
I used the pattern pieces from The Rachel Dress because the pattern had what I needed to make the garment I was seeing in my mind. However, I did make all new pieces for several reasons.

~ One because I needed to shorten the pattern pieces from dress length to tunic length. 
~ Two I needed to make facings for the front and back pieces which I ended up not using.
~ Three I was pulling pattern pieces from other envelopes - pocket from the Rachel Comey pattern and the sleeve from my TNT tunic pattern - so I decided to trace new pieces to stay with this grouping because after wearing the topper, I want to make more.
~ Pattern pieces were made for the jacket front top, the jacket front bottom and two back pieces, a new pocket piece and a sleeve. 

Actual Pattern Alterations were:
1. The dress top front had you place the pattern on the fold. Instead I made it two separate front pieces then added 1 5/8 inches to the center front of each piece. 
2. The same 1 5/8 inches was added to the bottom front piece. 
3. The back piece had a center back seam but instead of being separate top and bottom pieces, I just lengthened the top piece to the same length as the combined front pieces. 
4. No change was made to the sleeves.

Construction Details ~
Even after making those pockets in 2 dresses and 2 skirts, I still need the pattern instructions to sew them together...sad I know! *LOL* There were no real construction challenges once I figured out those was a pretty straightforward sew.

I did add a lining. I used a gray bemberg because I only have enough black in stock to line a skirt. The lining was made by cutting out the front and backs after they were sewn together in the fashion fabric. I wanted a solid lining without a lot of seams.  The jacket is lined to the edge and is free hanging, tacked at the hem seams so it doesn't fly away.

The sleeves are made from a black ponte to give the topper a sweatery, casual like feel since I used such a formal fabric. No button/closure was on the inspiration piece so I didn't add one to mine. When I wore it to work, I used one of the many pins I own, trying to re-purpose the jewelry collection y'know.

The pictures were taken at work by one of my colleagues using my iPad. I sit next to her and we talk all day long. She's one of the reasons I like the new job so much! She was really getting into it, kneeling down and shooting up, trying for angles...I was a little blown away that she accomplished so much in five short minutes!

A few more Pictures ~

This was so comfortable to wear! I felt dressed but not overly dressed. The ponte sleeves were comfortable and allowed me to push them up or wear them down. I even garnered a few compliments!

I definitely want to make this again but with these improvements:
*Raise the neckline - make it more jacket, less dress.
*Widen the shoulder seams - again more jacket, less dress.
*Lower the under arm seam - I cheated with this one by using the serger to achieve a lower underarm.
*Trying to decide if I want to remove some of the a-lineness of the topper bottom.

I do want to try it as a vest. Can you imagine that a pattern that started life as a skirt...has become a a topper and quite possibly a vest too. Sometimes it helps to think outside the box! always more later!


  1. I don't know that you have ever thought inside the box ;) This is great and I loved seeing the evolution. As a skirt this is still on my to-make list - maybe someday. Thanks for all the details you share. I don't remember the Channel inspired lace appliqued dress - perfection! g

  2. I so enjoy seeing the way you interpret patterns and incorporate RTW inspiration into each item. The finished topper looks fantastic and your friend did a great job with the photos.

  3. Good looking outfit! Actually I thought the new topper was a vest at first so yes that could definitely be the next stage in the evolution of this pattern!

  4. Your creativity is inspiring Carolyn. I am enjoying every step of your new wardrobe creation.

  5. This was a great post for me to read. I really appreciated the way you used your pattern and the transition to each piece you created. Thanks so much !

  6. You always inspire me. I think you are beautiful. Have a blessed day! :)

  7. Wow! just WOW! I love how this interpretation turned out. And the pin adds a great touch!! Thank you for the step by step development of your inspiration!!

  8. Wow. You're amazing Carolyn. Who but you would come up with an idea like this. I love the Rachel skirt and have made it many times, even as a purple ponte dress , but this is way beyond. And you look wonderful !

  9. Carolyn, another show stopper! I've had this pattern for ages and this post showing all your versions has finally got me headed upstairs to my sewing space. I originally thought the topper was a vest...the sleeves could have been part of your turtleneck. Thanks for always brightening my morning with your posts. (Kathie from way upstate NY, where we got not a single flake of snow last weekend!)

    1. Kathie - just rub that "no snow" thing in okay!?! *LOL* It will be in the 50s next week and while I'm very concerned about Climate Change, I'm thrilled that I won't be bundled up like Frosty the Snowman for a couple of days!

  10. Ever an inspiration, you have made another great garment.

  11. Oh Rachel dress #2 made me swoon but I love the topper!

    So much detail and in such great fabric. Fantstic!

    1. Rachel Dress which no longer resides in my closet! *sad face* Wasn't she beautiful?!

  12. This is such a beautiful topper. But what I love most is how you share the details of how you turned a skirt into a topper. Amazing inspiration -THX !!!!

  13. Love this! I am going to try that kind of pocket, all because of you.

  14. I absolutely love the topper and the way you styled it - I know this semi-casual thing is new for you but you're really rocking it!

    Also, you are (and have been) beautiful, elegant and stylish at every size, but in the last photo, you just glow. You look incredibly comfortable and at ease in your own skin and it's stunning!

  15. Very Beautiful, Carolyn! Excellent choice of fabric ,too!

  16. What a wonderful set of designs from one inspiration pattern. Now for pants right.

    1. Andrea, I can't even begin to wrap my head around that premise since I still have to rework my pants pattern! But could you imagine...that would be awesome!

  17. Great topper! I love hearing about the process.

  18. Lovely! Thanks for the details- so inspiring.

  19. Toppers are a great idea. Especially with a neutral column of colour underneath.

  20. This was a pattern that I never gave a thought to, until you did the deep dive into it and variations. And now my brain is different. The ultimate compliment! Love it!

  21. Enjoyed the post. I like your topper! Looks great with the top and pants.

  22. V1247 is my all time favourite skirt pattern too. I have lengthened and flared and straightened, removed pockets - you name it, I've done it. I have 11 versions in my wardrobe! But I just love what you've done - a dress and a waistcoat! Fabulous.

  23. What a great way to take a skirt pattern and make it your own. Well done!

  24. You been sewing! Get down girlie they all look great on you!

  25. Your creativity is so inspiring! It's really fun to read about how this pattern morphed to suit your needs... really cool!

  26. You amaze me with your thought process, there is no way I could create all your wonderful garments from a skirt pattern. Love your topper and thank you so much for the inspiration.


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